Do we focus on the right stuff during the K53 driver testing system?

During the past week there was some discussion on the Car Insurance Blog and Road Safety websites about the K53 Learner Test. We referred to questions such as “How do we define a roll during the K53 test (distance)?”

Perhaps more interesting is the response received from a visitor:

“Thank you for your reply, much appreciated!  My daughter tried for her licence on Monday and was not in the car for 2 minutes and was told she had rolled and was failed out right!!  This is a costly adventure getting a kid a drivers licence. She had 13 hours of drivers lessons, mostly in the yard at a cost of R180.00 her hour. Every time you make a booking it is R205.00 (she’s booked again) and to pay for the hiring of the instructors car is R540.00 (for 2 minutes!!!!!!!!!!!!) ……. totalling R3290.00 so far.

Add some extra lessons maybe 4 hours just to refresh as she has another booking at the end of April, and the hiring of the instructors car again (hopefully not for 2 minutes again) we could land up paying R4550.00 if she does get her licence then. Never mind all the petrol and time to drive to the station every time.

I’m wondering how many people can afford to pay so much to just get their licences!  These kids are not even given a second chance considering how nervous they must be at the prospect of getting tested at this level.  I wonder how many accidents occur whilst parallel parking? or even alley docking??  I think they should be tested on their abilities overall and not an instant fail. How would she know if the vehicle settled on it’s suspension?  My son tested for his licence 4 times and it was as costly, added to the fact that we had to go through the call centre at that time.”

Are we focused on the right meaurements of safe driving?

I decided to refer these comments to a licensing and K53 expert to enquire whether there is a need to reconsider the whole licensing and testing process – and would like to share his thoughts:

“Personally I think the K53 testing system, together with its implementation, has its priorities in the wrong places.

Having written a preparation manual for the UK public I know the UK system, and it is far more practical and relevant than ours.

Moreover, when people have to pay such a price to obtain a learner’s and a driving licence, is it any wonder that we see so much fraud in this area?

My colleague and I have on several occasions offered to serve on the relevant committee/s that discusses these issues…

Learner’s Licence Test

The Learner’s Licence Test also leaves a lot to be desired. Just one example is the section on ‘controls of a motor vehicle’. Regulation 104 (see below) states that the candidate must know and understand ‘the controls of a motor vehicle of the class to which the application relates’.
The wording says “… the controls of ..”, not how to use the controls in various driving situations.

The people who compiled the test questions have moved way beyond this requirement and have included questions related to how the controls should be used in various combinations when driving in different situations.

How in heaven’s name can a candidate for a learner’s licence be tested on knowledge s/he has not yet been taught by a driving instructor when learning to drive? The learner’s licence grants authority to commence driving lessons which then teach the individual how to drive. Such learner’s licence questions have nothing to do with ‘knowing and understanding the controls of the vehicle’.

The test should simply ask questions related to what each control is and what it is used for, and not how the controls should be used in combinations in specific driving situations like approaching a sharp bend, and so on.

We are frequently receiving complaints from the public that a candidate failed in that section of the test because of questions related to knowledge that the candidate will learn only once they have started taking driving lessons.

The tests should be amended urgently to replace those ridiculous questions. In fact, the entire test bank needs to be scrutinized and revamped to be more appropriate for a would-be learner driver in South Africa. In some cases, the question itself is written in grammar that makes it difficult to even understand what is being asked, let alone what the correct answer should be…

Also view:

Did You Know?

Learner Driver and Car Insurance

How do I become a Driver Instructor?

3 thoughts on “Do we focus on the right stuff during the K53 driver testing system?

  • February 8, 2011 at 10:35 am

    I’ve got my driver’s licence for about 24 accident free years now. I got it after I completed national service. I started at the age of about 12 when I pulled my mother’s car in and out of the drive way whenever we had people over. Then, went to the army where I could drive from a tractor up to 10 ton trucks with trailer. (the trailer part they would test you separate). I could also drive the colonel home and back in an army vehicle which I did every now and again, but at that stage could not drive a non-army car on the road.
    After the army when I tried for my civilian licence, I very nearly got failed! This after driving many thousands and thousands of km in the 2 years in the army.
    If I look at the current K53 tests, I recon I would totally fail. Not because the way I drive but on what they test you.
    I don’t know of anybody who would pull up the handbrake and take the car out of gear at a robot for instance. This would be too much of a hassle in any case where you have a car with a footbrake. This seems totally silly to me, to pull up the handbrake, but they will fail you if you don’t.
    I’ve driven with a co-worker a while back and she had her licence but she was too scared to change lanes on the highway and would sit behind a truck on a highway, (only about 4 meters from its bumper by the way), doing 80km/h in a 120 zone. I was so scared too drive with her that I got a lift from a different co-worker the next day.
    Now, she was doing everything by the K53 book, but didn’t have the confidence to handle the car on a highway, is this correct?

  • November 14, 2013 at 3:40 am

    no comment bt i like to write this problem ,i wrote three times my leaners licence bt only fail bcs of one mark,i don’t know wat i must do now

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